Pluralism means THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT LIFESTYLES and opinions in our society and if we want to run a successful society, then WE NEED TO RESPECT EACH OTHER and GET ALONG.
This DOES NOT MEAN stamping out all differences! It means CELEBRATING them.
The Great Seal of the United States includes the phrase, “E Pluribus, Unum,” which means, “Out of many, one.” Are we even trying to be one anymore? Or will we eventually change our name to “The Divided States of America”? (“Amer,” means “bitter” in French, which seems appropriate to point out here.)
Ever since the Civil Rights Movement, our nation has struck out on a path to better protect and respect all citizens. Bravo! This struggle has now lasted 60 years and the rough road has smoothed considerably since its beginnings, though we still have a lot learn.
For decades, “diversity” was a huge buzz word with companies and universities and the government seeking to better include minorities. Bravo!
Somewhere along the way, however, efforts turned more toward stamping out “oppression” by majorities (which was both real and imagined). “Diversity” launched the well-intentioned “political correctness” movement, which became the new regime of oppression. It revealed the sad aspect of human nature where whoever has power seeks to supress all differences from their policy viewpoint.
As part of this movement, many citizens have begun to claim the right to never be offended. While well intentioned, this sometimes-misguided concept often results in the opposite of pluralism. On one hand, it’s appropriate that bigotry, bullying, and racism be suppressed and rooted out of our culture. Such behavior only damages. On the other hand, it’s inappropriate to seek to root out religion and other questions of conscience. Such stances often motivate their owners to do good, and if someone’s expression of conscience offends you, then your job is to get over it and at minimum respect others’ right to disagree with your viewpoint.
The solution, as always, is LOVE. If previous political and religious majorities had treated minorities more respectfully (which is a natural result of love), they wouldn’t have suffered the massive backlash that often makes them appear as the beseiged, disparaged underdog in national discourse these days.
If liberal and conservative citizens, religious sects, politicians and other leaders fail to begin with the assumption of respect for one anothers’ views and their right to disagree, then we’ll never get anything better than the horrid, polarized mess that now surrounds us, where even our national media takes sides and fights dirty by presenting evidence only in favor of their bias and basing arguments on every available inflamatory comment rather than deeper, discerning analysis. I hardly know who to trust anymore.
It doesn’t stop with the media, of course; you probably have Facebook friends who belittle anyone with differences of opinion and request that they unfriend them. Oh, do YOU do that? That makes YOU part of the problem! Stop it! WE NEED YOU to fix our country!
Yes, YOU. You outspoken hotheads. You brash souls willing to let your opinion be heard. In case you’ve never stopped to look around at anyone but yourself, it turns out that the majority of society is very timid compared to you, so much of social discourse is advanced by your personality type instead. How about using your talents for good by calling for wider acceptance of differences? How about getting strongly opinionated about something constructive and uniting for a change? How about becoming a force for the kind of good that can glue our nation together instead of rip it apart?
We also need you calmer minds and mouths to thoughtfully speak up now and then in support of truth and reason. Without your contribution to reasoned dialog, democracy will fail.
Pluralism is on my mind today because of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that prayer before city council meetings, at least if multiple demoniations are represented, is constitutional. The ruling surprised me because it’s the first major step toward religious pluralism that I’ve noticed for a while, and I applaud it. I don’t much care of city councils choose to pray or not, but I absolutely care that government not suppress religious expression in favor of the “state religion” of secularism.
If we humans could get over our emotionally reactive thinking and become better, more open-minded critical thinkers, we could learn a lot from each other. We could enjoy each others’ company a lot more, not only despite our differences, but because of them.
Am I too idealistic? Or will someone read this article and act on it? Will you speak out, or at least share this and other reasonable articles calling for pluralistic respect on their Facebook walls? Will The Left continue to treat The Right like imbeciles, and The Right treat The Left like demons? Or can we discover that our opponents also have brains and that the best solution always falls somewhere in between us.